This blog is written by Darci Hortness from South Dakota. That's me. I'm the resident, volunteer manager of New Hope Horse Shelter, which is HQ for DoubleHP (Horse Help Providers, Inc.)
We are a 501c3 nonprofit and have been for more than 10 years. We are a very small organization. Our 501c3 purpose is "for the prevention of cruelty to animals." Our mission statement is this: To assist law enforcement in starvation/neglect cases involving horses; to encourage responsible horse ownership; and to develop safe, educational, and fun opportunities for all levels of horse lovers -- so that we all may experience the magic of horses."
In the last couple of years we have started to sharpen our focus on "equine assisted learning." We are a Horse Sanctuary and Learning Center, so 14 of our rescued horses now get to call our Shelter their permanent home. Humans may come here and learn about horses and learn about themselves with the help of horses. We have a horsemanship program now, and it is strongly influenced by Parelli Natural Horsemanship. Several of our participants are going through the Parelli Levels, auditions, certifications, etc.
I received EAGALA certification a few years ago, and I would like to further develop an EAGALA program here. Sioux Falls Area Mental Health Professionals, you are invited to bring some of your clients here for equine assisted psychotherapy / learning. We have a page for this here too, to learn more about it.
Before I get off track, because I know I will, and that's ok when I'm blogging, let me just say that we have done a lot of rescue. Seen lots of suffering, starving, freezing, and dying. Just in case you wondered if I have actually been "in the trenches" I assure you I have spent more than my fair share of time down there. For proof, go to our page for horse story archives from 2007-2011 and read some of the stories. Some happy some sad. Some nearly unbelieveable, like Jack Frost and Saint Nick and Shadow & Bella and their poor friends. And many many others. OK got that out of the way. back to this post:
I feel fortunate that I don't have to go to a real office job anymore. I live here with the horses. 17 of them. and 17 cats and 2 Labs. And so I DO have a very important job; I just don't get paid for it. Not money anyway. The animals pay me plenty. just not with money. I don't recognize birthdays anymore but I am over 50 now. I do a lot of manual horse chores and, with 17 horses, that can be a lot especially during the winter. I stay motivated and positive though, with warm clothes and the knowledge of physical exercise as it relates to mental well-being and all things healthy. We also have some part-time paid employees who do a lot of the stall cleaning and feeding. And some of our horsemanship participants are willing to help with chores if we need the help when they are here. My husband also lives here with me. Though he has a "real" job to go to in the city. Which is good, because without that we would not be able to have our Horse Shelter and do what we do for the animals here. This is where our hay, tractor maintenance, snow removal, and entire facility comes from. This is what we decided to do in life -- help some animals, as many as we have time money and space for -- and find ways to provide opportunities for other humans to enjoy the horses too, to help with their care and become their sponsors and partners. And when we put all of these individual picture frames together, the resulting big production is something like this: it's a story about some very special animals and the people who truly love and care for them, people who continue to learn from and with the animals every single day, and who spread the word and experience on to other humans from county to city to state to nation to world, people who indirectly help with our original purpose of "prevention of cruelty to animals" and our original mission statement which includes a hope for improved equine welfare and continuing education among all horse owners. And a hope that somehow, with our stories, we can help turn that education into compassion. These horses are our friends, our buddies. They are not like other animals on the farm. They are not really like dogs & cats that are generally accepted in our houses, and they certainly are not like cows sheep pigs and chickens who are generally accepted on our dinner plates. Horses are special, unique. And one of the most special things about them is how much they can teach us about ourselves. I kid you not! Spend some time in our horsemanship program learning about non-verbal communication and different personalities, and I will dare you to not let it have an affect on other parts of your life. At home, at work, in meetings, on the playing field, in life in general.
Oh I guess I rambled. that's ok in a blog, this blog anyway.
The point I was trying to make, I think, is that I certainly do appreciate the help. But, we can always use volunteers. At first, it can seem like really hard work. cleaning stalls, shoveling snow, putting hay out, emptying water buckets, etc. But it gets better. It is excellent exercise. It is rewarding and purposeful. You don't have to dress up. And you get to be around horses!
We can also use more donations and income in general. As I mentioned, we are 501c3, so donations are tax deductible to the full extent within our Laws.
If you have any questions or suggestions about our organization or programs, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org